Kasparov: Putin is Mimicking Political Liberalism

Garry Kasparov. Source: Daylife.comIn a continuation from his last article, Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov argues that many of the country’s prominent public figures who purport to be part of the liberal intelligentsia have more in common with the ruling regime than they’d like to admit.

A Niche of Comfort
Putin’s system painstakingly mimics political liberalism
By Garry Kasparov
February 4, 2011

The more obvious the aggressive essence of Putin’s regime becomes, the more that parallels with Rasputin’s influence over the imperial court, which conclusively discredited the tsarist regime and made support for the monarchy impossible for the cognizant part of Russian society, come to mind. This is what I wrote about in my previous article. However, today, as opposed to events from a hundred years ago, there’s a clear answer to the question of what more needs to be done to the regime so that people who are used to calling themselves liberals stop supporting it. Unfortunately, they and the people who see themselves as part of the apolitical intelligentsia have no such boundaries. They are so accustomed to their existence within this frame of reference that their own reputation lost any kind of meaning long ago. It’s easier to live in a state of permanent comfort without one.

Nevertheless, the verdict in the second Yukos trial and the New Year’s Eve arrests of opposition leaders provided a reason for certain people to state their positions. But Akunin’s “amputination” sounds dissonant compared to statements by liberal advocates.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a conspicuous bureaucrat “from the presidential team” who loves to talk about himself, is hardly worried by the lawlessness in the Khamovnichesky Court or the general collapse of the judicial system. For him, the main issue is to prepare another modernized striptease in Davos so that western cash flows continue to replenish the accounts of the boss and his faithful associates, who are clearly sliding into poverty.

Yevgeny Yasin, with persistence worthy of a better cause, does not tire of convincing us that Russia has created a market economy. Again – the lack of independent courts, obviously, fully corresponds with his idea of a market. The main problem that worries this systemic-liberal ideologue is high state expenditures; he mentions corruption perfunctorily and passes over Khodorkovsky and Lebedev’s sentence in embarrassed silence. Dvorkovich also calls for cuts in state spending, but at the expense of the students. Putin’s billionth mansion in Novorossiysk, strange as it may seem, turned out to be an eyesore they just couldn’t see.

The Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, which was given permission to write an expert analysis of the Yukos affair, is so oblivious in its joy to any boundaries that its sense of respect for the current judicial system overshadows its sense of respect for the law. As [former deputy finance minister Sergei] Aleksashenko correctly pointed out, everyone knows how the government’s next scheme “with decent people who want change so strongly” is going to end.

The famous liberal-minded historian Nikolai Svanidze continues to fight an all-out war against Stalin’s cult of personality. The cult of personality of the national leader does not fall into view for the people entirely comfortable in Putin’s system of agitprop.

Andrei Makarevich says he has no love for professional revolutionaries. He tells Yury the Musician how to deal with Putin if he winds up at another event. Of course, there were representatives of the intelligentsia a hundred years ago who didn’t want to take active positions, either. But it’s hard to imagine that they would allow themselves to speak so poorly of the ones who continue to fight. But the times are such that Makarevich and others like him can keep on ignoring the reality that surrounds them and sing bravely at their high-class parties, spitting disdainfully on any dissenters.

Ideological forms of indoctrination have become much more sophisticated. There were no such subtleties a hundred years ago. Now the government has skillfully created a buffer for itself out of the liberal social strata, which allows it to keep up a certain superficial level of propriety in our modern-day version of Rasputin’s court. And a whole lot of people see those in this strata as having liberal values. Putin’s system painstakingly mimics political liberalism, but its principles (separation of powers, free and competitive elections, freedom of expression) are widely violated in practice. The result is their total discredit.

The absurdity of the situation also lies in the fact that people who openly oppose the regime cannot relate to those who want to have it both ways. The government creates a situation where it is difficult to define the boundaries for a moral boycott. Therefore, the mocking discussions about how each consecutive refusal to cooperate with the government must, in the end, come down to tax evasion and ignoring the law, continue. But everyone understands perfectly well that it’s at least time to stop pretending that the regime’s liberal servants are gradually changing it from within.

Translation by theotherrussia.org.